UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
March 1, 1999
It is a pleasure to include my comments this month under a new heading. I also want to thank everyone for the support they provided over the past year which facilitated the work of all of us here at Southern Region Headquarters. We have achieved so much along the way to a modernized and restructured Weather Service, but there is a lot yet to be done. I look forward to our future accomplishments.
SOUTHERN REGION MIC/HIC MEETING. The first week of this month all of the Southern Region MICs and HICs met at Olive Branch, Mississippi, near Memphis, to review our progress and discuss issues for the year ahead. We were very pleased to have NWS director Jack Kelly meet with us. His vision for the NWS is clear, and during the extensive question and answer session he addressed many of the most important concerns affecting our field offices. His support for NWS staffing is strong, and equally important is making sure our employees have the tools they need to do their jobs.
We were also pleased that Susan Fruchter, Director Office of Policy and Strategic Planning and Special Counsel to NOAA Director Jim Baker, could attend the meeting to brief MICs and HICs on the NOAA Strategic Plan, which has just been distributed. Responding to questions from the meeting participants, she clarified the annual budget process and other related issues. We will be following up in future issues of Topics on many of the important topics that were discussed at the meeting.
INSTALLATION UPDATE. AWIPS was installed at NWSFO San Juan, NWSO Shreveport and NWSO Lake Charles in February, bringing the total number of Southern Region sites with AWIPS to 26. There are 11 more installations to go. Additionally, LDADS has been activated at four sites and is in the process of being activated at all Southern Region sites. LDADS is currently being used to ingest and plot Oklahoma mesonet data and Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) data from the western United States, including New Mexico. Data from other sources can be added as needed, but local development will be necessary to do so. Information packages are being developed by SRH and the NWSTC to support these efforts. The AWIPS site survey at NWSO Key West was completed and installation is targeted for July.
SPACEFLIGHT METEOROLOGY GROUP ACTIVITIES. The X-38, a scaled-down prototype of the Crew Return Vehicle, touched down on the Edwards AFB on February 6, culminating in a highly successful second test flight. The full-sized vehicle is designed to provide astronauts a safe return from the International Space Station in emergency situations. Forecasters with the NWS/NASA SMG at Johnson Space Center in Houston provided critical weather support for this successful test. The recovery operation of the huge parafoil which lowered the vehicle to a soft landing on the desert lake bed became difficult when surface winds began gusting out of limits.
The test flight was originally scheduled for February 5, but was postponed for 24 hours due to low ceilings. Current X-38 weather flight rules prohibit operations when ceilings are below the B-52 mother ship's release altitude, which varies between 10-15,000 ft. The weather challenge on February 6 turned out to be forecasting surface winds, which must be no more than 14 kt sustained and 18 kt peak. This is mainly to allow for safe recovery operations involving gathering and stowing the giant parafoil, which is as large as the wingspan of a 747.
SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEKS. The end of February and the beginning of March are the times when most states in the region conduct their severe weather awareness weeks. This year as in the past, our offices commemorated the week by issuing a series of Public Information Statements, conducting area-wide tornado drills, and distributing informational booklets describing severe weather in their local areas. This year, however, there was a noticeable increase in the quality of the booklets and brochures which were distributed. Several state liaison offices coordinated with their state Emergency Management Agencies (EMA) to obtain funding or production assistance. The result was a series of attractive, in some cases full-color, severe weather booklets. Our congratulations to the offices who have completed their awareness weeks and best of luck to those whose weeks are still to come.
PUBLIC OUTREACH AND SUPPORT. Some significant projects were completed during the past month. Below are some highlights.
Twelve staff members from NWSFO Miami and the NCEP Tropical Prediction Center staffed a booth for the 1999 Miami International Boat Show. The booth featured NWR/CRS information, numerous safety handouts, and a video of the downtown Miami tornado/waterspout. An estimated 10,000 people visited the exhibit during the week-long show. Of these, nearly 200 were marine customers who completed surveys on the NWSFO's products and services.
Forecaster Tim Troutman (NWSO Melbourne) completed a project with the Save-A-Lot grocery store chain in which Save-A-Lot will print tornado safety tips on their monthly advertising circulars. The tips will be printed every other month, continuing into next fall. The circulars will total around two million in Florida, and they will be distributed at Save-A-Lot locations in 36 other states, reaching most of the United States. Additionally, Save-A-Lot is willing to print several million hurricane safety tip sheets as we approach hurricane season.
NWSO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian participated in a Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) meeting at the Tennessee EMA. The meeting focused on the Jackson and Clarksville tornadoes and Severe Weather Awareness Week. VOAD includes representatives from the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Second Harvest, and other disaster relief groups. After the meeting, Jerry was interviewed by two television stations and assisted in the production of severe weather safety messages to be aired by the local media.
NWSFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen delivered a severe weather safety presentation to 135 school officials at the Sixth Annual Pupil Transportation Workshop. Workshop attendees included school transportation directors, supervisors, and specialists from across the state of Texas. Larry's talk provided a background on severe weather, basic storm behavior and visual clues, and a detailed look at safety rules from the viewpoint of school bus safety.
FLORIDA TORNADO OUTBREAK ANNIVERSARY. In conjunction with the anniversary of the devastating 1998 Central Florida tornado outbreak, NWSO Melbourne MIC Bart Hagemeyer participated in a news conference with representatives from the State of Florida EMA, Osceola County EMA, Congressional staff members, and the director of a Kissimmee daycare center damaged in the tornadoes. During the news conference, the Florida EMA announced the distribution of 10,000 NOAA Weather Radio receivers to nursing homes and day care centers across the state. All of the Orlando area television stations covered the news conference along with several Tampa area media. After the event, Bart provided interviews to each of the TV crews and National Public Radio.
MEDIA OUTREACH. Several offices have figured prominently in the local and national media. Following are some notes from across the Region.
NWSFO New Orleans Area SOO Mike Koziara participated in a 30-minute radio call-in show on CBS Radio affiliate WWL in New Orleans. The show was hosted by a local TV meteorologist and focused on the mild, dry weather pattern experienced by the south-central states this winter. Mike discussed other topics including La Niña, the January tornado outbreaks, the 1998 hurricane season, and the outlook for the 1999 hurricane season.
NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas MIC Skip Ely conducted an in-depth interview with the Bell County newspaper. The interview covered all facets of the spring weather outlook, including the potential for severe weather, temperature, and precipitation. The interview lasted about 30 minutes, and the article will appear in an upcoming edition of the paper.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SUPPORT. Southern Region staff have been involved with activities on both the local and national level to support our Emergency Management customers. For example:
NWSFO Norman WCM Jim Purpura, along with New Orleans MIC Paul Trotter and SOO Frank Revitte, and Santos Rodriguez from NWS Headquarters staffed a booth at the SALEMDUG (State and Local Emergency Managers Data Users Group) conference in New Orleans. The booth featured a live demonstration of EMWIN, complete with a laptop computer, large display monitor, and tabletop display background. Frank Revitte reported there were several vendors of EMWIN equipment at the conference and interest in the EMWIN data stream was high.
NWSFO Memphis WCM John White reports that spotter training was the subject of a feature article in a recent issue of "CQ" magazine. "CQ" is a nationally-based amateur radio magazine, focusing on the bands above 50 MHz. The article concluded with a reference to the NWSFO Memphis SKYWARN Emergency Network Operations Manual, which is posted on the NWSFO's Web site.
Members of the NWSFO Austin/San Antonio staff represented the NWS at the quarterly meeting of the South Central (Texas) Emergency Managers Association. MIC Al Dreumont spoke on the NWS seasonal and long-range forecasts, including La Niña impacts. Other meeting topics included local EMWIN rebroadcasts, reviews of the October flood event, and amateur radio operations.
NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich and lead forecaster Alan Moller concluded a five-hour spotter training class in Waco. Nearly 200 were in attendance, including representatives from three Waco television stations. More importantly, the Waco training session was videotaped and the presentation will be aired in its entirety between 15 and 30 times throughout the spring on local cable television. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 people will view the program in the Waco/Central Texas area.
NWSO Tampa Bay WCM Walt Zaleski and the NWSO staff conducted an area-wide amateur radio spotter workshop. The workshop was attended by representatives of the ARES, RACES, and ARRL amateur radio groups within the NWSO's County Warning Area. Topics covered at the workshop included basic communications protocols, the statewide tornado drill, and a tour of the NWSO facilities. The workshop also addressed methods of expanding the repeater network in west-central Florida and the various communications bands (2 meter, 440 MHz, HF) available for use.
CORPUS CHRISTI 6TH MARINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING. The Marine Program Team at NWSO Corpus Christi, led by John Metz, Steve Smart, Larry Maifeld, and Waylon Collins, hosted the 6th Marine Advisory Committee (MAC) meeting in February. Marine focal point John Metz worked diligently to put a program together that would educate the marine community and solicit feedback and suggestions from those who use our products. MIC Joe Arellano, introduced upcoming improvements which customers will see. Terry Huber introduced himself as the new WCM and solicited feedback about our marine products and what we can do to better serve our customers. Ken Graham (SRH/MSD) talked about the latest marine issues and what mariners can do to help us improve our service. John Metz educated the mariners on what to expect from the Corpus Christi office in the future and provided some excellent case studies. James Rizzo, of the Conrad Blucher Institute, provided information about Internet access to their coastal observation network. Tawnya Parke, the hurricane program leader provided a peek into the 1999 hurricane season. The only way to serve NWS customers to the fullest extent is to get to know them face to face. Nice job!
NEWS FROM THE CENTER WEATHER SERVICE UNITS. The following is a summary of recent noteworthy activities at a few of the Southern Region CWSUs.
CWSU Albuquerque. The CWSU staff is gearing up to take part in the Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) Project for May and June. The CDM is a multi-state, multi-agency project to better define thunderstorm areas that will affect aviation operations and safety over the eastern two-thirds of the country. The Aviation Weather Center (AWC) will provide a preliminary graphical thunderstorm forecast and, after daily input from other offices, will provide the final experimental graphical product via Internet. It is expected several other CWSUs within the region will also participate in this project.
CWSU Fort Worth. MIC Tom Hicks, completed modification of his PLOTTER program and has posted it to the CWSU Web page for downloading. PLOTTER 99, v. 1.01 includes a couple of fixes and minor changes to previous versions, including:
1. A "living plot" of MTR data that updates as new products arrive;
2. Plots of TAFs that can be "stepped through" hour by hour;
3. Plots of WSR-88D RCM files;
4. Semi-automatic transition to new inflight advisory points that became effective March 1, 1999; and
5. Context-sensitive help.
The program requires Windows 95, 98 and NT to operate. It is not necessary to uninstall previous versions of the program, since PLOTTER 99 installs right over them. The Web site for downloading the program is: http://www.zfwartcc.jccbi.gov/cwsu/
The CWSU has added a page to their Web site which includes experimental MOS-like guidance products based on RUC-2 data. These products seem very well-suited for aviation forecasts and are available at: http://www.zfwartcc.jccbi.gov/cwsu/ruc2.htm. Access the products by clicking on the "RUCxxx" option on the "Current Weather" page.
CWSU Houston. The second Continental Airline Dispatcher Training session was held February 17 at the ARTCC in Houston. Seven dispatchers attended the eight-hour training class. Another eight classes are planned through August.
FIRE SITUATION REPORT. The persistent lack of rain across the western part of Texas and parts of north and central Florida have elevated the fire danger to extreme levels (the Keetch-Byram Index values are approaching 600 in the driest areas). Unfortunately, the prospect for relief remains dismal for the next few months with outlooks from CPC indicating continued warm and dry conditions. Aggravating the arid conditions are periodic bouts of strong and gusty winds in the fire threat areas. In West Texas, fuel moisture values are approaching record levels. The Texas Forest Service has established staging areas to concentrate resources to speed response, should large-scale wildfires break out. Several small acreage fires have already been reported within the threat area. With La Niña conditions having a firm grip on the southern tier of states, it appears we will be in store for another very active fire season across the Region.
FIRE WEATHER TRANSFER NEWS. On February 18-19, Jim Noffsinger, Fire Weather Program Leader at NWSFO Atlanta, visited NWSO Morristown to conduct fire weather training. The entire staff completed the training, which should go a long way in preparing them to take on spot, prescribed burn, and routine forecast responsibilities later this year.
NWSO Midland has been busy installing FTS software to access data from Remote Automated Weather Sites (RAWS) in the Chisos Basin and Panther Junction, both in the Texas Big Bend National Park, and Mayhill in the Lincoln National Forest of New Mexico. They currently are receiving data from other RAWS in preparation for their July 1999 fire weather program spin-up. Both Midland and El Paso are gearing up for assuming the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and spot forecasts for their county warning areas later this spring.
On February 23 representatives from NWS offices in Shreveport, Houston and Fort Worth met with representatives of the U.S. and Texas Forest Services in Lufkin, Texas. The primary emphasis of the meeting was to coordinate the upcoming transfer of some fire weather forecast service responsibilities from Fort Worth to Houston and Shreveport. The meeting addressed such topics as formats of fire weather forecasts, methods of dissemination, and important meteorological parameters affecting fire behavior.
FIRE WEATHER FORECASTERS COURSE. The Fire Weather Forecasters Course will be held in Boise, Idaho, at the end of this month. All of our submitted candidates, consisting primarily of Fire Weather Program Leaders, were selected to participate in the week-long course.
FIRE WEATHER FORECAST STANDARDIZATION. With the impending spin-up of fire weather services, the region is confronted with tackling the issue of standardizing the FWF format. Some offices, after transfer, will be faced with forecasting for parts of several states, each of which have their own unique FWF format. This creates quite a problem. Add to that the difficulties encountered last year in Florida by IMETs and fire crews from outside the Southern Region who were unfamiliar with the various formats used for the FWF. We established a five-member team to look into the matter of standardization. The process was arduous and involved close coordination with land management groups as well as fire weather program leaders across the Southern Region (and in some instances, in locations outside the region). We believe the team, comprising Mike Thompson (Little Rock), Chuck Maxwell (Albuquerque), Mark Rose (Birmingham), Charlie Paxton (Tampa Bay Area), and David Hotz (Morristown), was successful.
The Team constructed two flexible formats that should satisfy the needs of both narrative and tabular users. These formats were disseminated to Fire Weather Program Leaders last week for comments.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Very hydrologically active January across the mid-south states. Very heavy rainfall was recorded across several Southern Region HSAs during January. Observed monthly rainfall totals ranged from 10 to near 18 inches at many reporting stations in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee.
Widespread flooding was reported in the Shreveport, Jackson, Memphis, and Nashville HSAs. Over 75 River Flood Warnings were issued for these four HSAs. Hundreds of homes were flooded in the Shreveport HSA with a record crest measured on Wallace Lake in south Shreveport. The flooding on Cypress Bayou closed I-49 for awhile on January 31.
WHFS training completed at Amarillo. Lance Goehring, hydro focal point, reports the Amarillo staff has completed the WHFS proficiency drills he put together. Further staff training is planned, including a seminar by Lance on the use of WHFS in a flood situation.
WSFO Albuquerque participates in a simulated flood emergency. Senior service hydrologist Ed Polasko reports the Albuquerque office, along with the Colorado Basin RFC and NWSO Grand Junction, participated in Bureau of Reclamation designed flood emergency involving three dams and an excessive rainfall/rapid snow melt scenario. The flood exercise lasted all day and included simulated hydrologic forecasts, warnings and statements being issued by the NWS offices involved. More than 50 people participated in the project which involved extensive internal and external coordination with other federal, state, and local government agencies.
FREQUENTLY ASKED SATELLITE QUESTIONS. As part of the NWS training program, a Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training has been established. VISIT is a joint effort involving the NWS, NESDIS and the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University. Brian Motta, one of the VISIT collaborating meteorologists, has developed a Web site which provides answers to frequently asked GOES questions. Visit the VISIT site at http://www.cira.colostate.edu/ramm/visit/goesfaq.asp.
Note particularly that several of the FAQs relate to rapid-scan GOES operations (RSO). With the increasing likelihood of severe weather, it's timely to consider each office's role in initiating RSO. At the present time, the lead forecaster at NWSFO Tulsa is the region's point of contact to request RSO. That procedure is under review, and may be modified.
JACKSON SEMINARS. On February 2, NWSFO Jackson, in cooperation with Jackson State University, hosted a seminar on medium-range forecasting and QPF at JSU's library auditorium. Mike Schichtel from the NCEP Hydrometeorological Prediction Center presented the seminar, which was attended by 19 NWS meteorologists from the Jackson, New Orleans, Mobile, Memphis and Shreveport offices. Eleven JSU students and three faculty members participated as their schedules permitted. Mike gave an excellent presentation, discussing the procedures and techniques HPC forecasters use in producing medium-range and QPF forecasts.
In addition, forecaster Bill Parker (NWSO Shreveport) arrived a day early to present a talk at the NWSFO on his and Shreveport SOO Ken Falk's research using rotational shear as a warning tool for tornadoes, including a nomogram they've derived for operational use. Their work was originally presented at the 19th AMS Conference on Severe Local Storms last September. The talk was well attended by the NWSFO staff, and concepts discussed will be incorporated into Jackson's severe weather operations this season.
SATELLITE SEMINARS. NWSFO New Orleans Area SOO Mike Koziara provided seminars last month for NWSFO and RFC staff members, using material from the COMET Satellite Meteorology Course. Topics included basic radiation theory, and applications of GOES infrared, water vapor, short wave IR, and "fog" imagery. Integration with other observations and model output from AWIPS was stressed. The GOES sounder was discussed along with some useful derived products such as lifted index, total precipitable water, precipitation estimates, WINDEX, soundings, and tropical wind analysis. Unfortunately, these sounder products are not available on AWIPS, but there are Web sites where real-time derived satellite products are available. Mike also familiarized the staff with other self-study training material such as the three COMET satellite modules and various Web sites from cooperating universities. The "Weather Links" page accessible from the SRH home page (http://www.srh.noaa.gov) is a good place to begin your search for related information.
SPIN-UP TRAINING. NWSFO Austin/San Antonio SOO, Jim Ward, provided training seminars at NWSO Brownsville last month to help prepare the staff for transfer of service responsibilities later this month. Jim focused on marine forecasting, the role of the senior forecaster, and the use of teams in station operations. His 2 ½ hour presentation was repeated twice to allow all forecasters to participate, along with HMTs and the NWSO management team. All attendees benefitted and contributed to a lively interaction. Well done, Jim.
UNIVERSITY ASSIGNMENT PROGRAM. Applications for the UAP must be submitted to SSD by March 29. Instructions were mailed to all offices in late January, and they can also be found on the SRH Web site (http://www.srh.noaa.gov).
DACFO REPORT. The 1998 Director's Advisory Committee on Forecast Operations (DACFO) has completed its work, and a final report of recommendations and actions may be found on the DACFO home page at www.nws.noaa.gov/dacfo/. Thanks to Larry Boatman (CWSU Memphis), Nezette Rydell (NWSFO Austin/San Antonio) and Greg Patrick (NWSO Tulsa) who participated in the national activities of DACFO over the past year. A list of Southern Region office DACFO focal points was included in the October 1998 issue of Southern Topics.
SOO TRAINING RESOURCE CENTER. COMET (Vickie Johnson) is developing a Web-based "center" where SOOs and others may locate training resources. There are three aspects to the site:
The Training Resource Center is part of the "MetEd" page which can be found at: http://meted.ucar.edu/resources/soo/index.htm.
ENSEMBLE MOS FORECASTS. Experimental ensemble MOS forecasts can be found at http://tgsv5.nws.noaa.gov/tdl/synop/mosyn.htm. Unfortunately, there is little documentation of these forecasts, and even less has been done to assess their usefulness. Any further work by the Techniques Development Lab at NWS Headquarters will likely be delayed until higher priority MOS tasks (conversion to the new NCEP computer system, development of Eta and AVN MOS, and resolution of Y2K issues) can be taken care of. NWSO Key West SOO Jack Settelmaier helped develop the ensemble MOS forecasts while he was with TDL.
OSF NEWS. The following notes are based on extracts from the latest WSR-88D Operational Support Facility Weekly Report.
WATADS Version 10.1. While testing the WATADS v10.1 software prior to its release to the field, Application Branch personnel discovered a small number of discrepancies in the Snow Accumulation Algorithm (SAA) and the Area Mean Basin Estimated Rainfall (AMBER) algorithm. Correcting the software is expected to be a fairly quick process and the OSF is working with NSSL to determine a new schedule for delivery to the field offices.
Field interaction. Applications Branch personnel worked with Steve Amburn (SOO, NWSO Tulsa) investigating a VIL Density algorithm that Steve has developed. We also worked with Mark Fraser (NWSFO Memphis) to evaluate the performance of the TDA during the 17 January 1999 tornado outbreak. Applications Branch personnel participated in the Southern High Plains Severe Weather Conference in Lubbock, and made a presentation titled "How to use the Build 10 Tornado Detection Algorithm (TDA)." Don Burgess (Operations Training Branch) discussed advancements in training, improving tornado warnings, and future algorithm and radar improvements.
DLOC and HMT Courses. The teletraining presentation files for Blocks 3 and 4 of the DLOC and Modules 4 and 5 of the HMT Course were completed and posted for downloading on the OTB Web site. Email notification and training materials for both courses have been sent to the WFO training officers.
OTB Workshops. Two "second generation" Warning Decision-Making II Workshops were held at the COMET training facility in Boulder during February. Liz Quoetone, John Ferree, and Mike Magsig were OTB facilitators/developers along with Bill Bunting (NWSO Pleasant Hill), and David Andra (NWSFO Norman). The 50 or so participants were primarily from WFOs, but also included some from regional and national headquarters. The workshops built on principles of the first series of five WDM Workshops offered to each forecast office in 1997-98.
Of primary interest was the use of AWIPS in the office warning methodology as well as expanded presentations on situational awareness, forecast uncertainty, and additional findings from the research community regarding tornado warning guidance. All presentations as well as a summary presentation will soon be available on the OTB home page to help facilitate additional workshops at field sites.
SEVERE WEATHER CONFERENCE. In association with the Atmospheric Science Group and the Wind Science and Engineering Department at Texas Tech University, the Lubbock NWSFO organized and hosted a 2 1/2 day severe weather conference on February 9-11. The COMET program provided assistance in the form of a Partners grant which supported participation by additional university faculty and students. NWS forecasters from more than a dozen Southern Region offices actively participated in the conference sessions, along with scientists from the NEXRAD OSF, the NCEP Storm Prediction Center, NSSL, CIRA, and the Forecast Systems Lab. Several media and private sector meteorologists also participated.
This outstanding collaboration provided a unique opportunity for forecasters to interact directly with operational researchers on issues related to the detection and forecasting of severe storms, and assessment of their impacts. NWSFO Lubbock forecasters Don Baker and Larry Vannozzi, and SOO Loren Phillips handled most of the development work and are to be complimented on a remarkable achievement.
GOES ECLIPSE SEASON UNDERWAY. Beginning last month and continuing through April 26, GOES images and soundings will be canceled from 0400 UTC to 0630 UTC for GOES-8 and from 0800 UTC to 1100 UTC for GOES-10, due to solar intrusion and eclipse operations. Further information and links to GOES FAQs are available on the SSD Satellite Information Web page (choose Satellite Information on the SRH Weather Links Web page).
COLLABORATIVE STUDY OF GEORGES. On January 29, two Florida State University graduate students from Prof. T.N. Krisnamurti's regional modeling group visited NWSO Mobile to confer on a joint research proposal investigating the impact of hurricane Georges on the Gulf Coast states last year. The study would focus on and combine high resolution data sets obtained by the NWSO and numerical modeling results from FSU. The mesoscale structure and variability of wind and heavy rain associated with Georges at landfall was unusual, and a better understanding of mechanisms involved could lead to significantly improved forecasts in the future. Following up on the meeting, MIC Randy McKee and forecaster Dan Darbe visited FSU in late February for further discussions. As a result, a Cooperative Proposal has been submitted to the COMET Outreach Program.
NEW Y2K REPORTING FORMAT. In an effort to alleviate inconsistencies in the way Y2K compliance data were submitted, and to further consolidate the data as they move up the corporate ladder, a contractor from DataEast was brought on site at NWS Headquarters to look closely at the Y2K Inventory databases. The result is a new consolidated ways of reporting which reduces dozens of lines into one. An example form showing the old and new ways of reporting was included with instructions which went to field offices. Many responded within days using the new report structure. Leon Minton will be working with a new Microsoft Access database at SRH to collate the data from all the field offices and provide it to NWSH.
A Business Continuity and Contingency Plan (BCCP) was completed February 10, by Tom Grayson and Leon Minton and provided to NWSH as required. This plan explains efforts the Southern Region will take to ensure there are contingencies for any Y2K failures which could still occur, despite our efforts to find and fix all the "bugs."
STATUS OF NOAA-WIDE EMAIL CONVERSION EFFORT. On February 23, Leon Minton and Mario Valverde took part in a video teleconference with other email focal points to learn the status of the Netscape effort and to add comments of our own. An official NWS announcement concerning Netscape should occur soon. The NWS is represented on a Messaging Configuration Board (MCB), and a Messaging and Implementation Team (MIT), by Linda Weaver and Billy Louis, respectively. There are sub groups such as the Directory Structure Group. In fact, efforts are already underway to define the NOAA-level directory structure, which must exist before setting up the Directory and Messaging Servers, with a rather ambitious goal for finalizing these definitions by April 1. There is also the Data Dictionary Group, the PKI Certificate and Security Group, and the Project Planning and Policy Group.
Normally a project of this magnitude takes about one to two years to accomplish. Our hope is that it will take a year or less if everything can be worked out expeditiously. Leon Minton was chosen as the primary volunteer from the regions to take part in setting up a prototype test system at NWSH to fully explore the Netscape SuiteSpot system in preparation for migration from cc:mail. There are many challenges and issues that lie ahead such as directory, security, and messaging design, planning and implementation, and the transfer of current functionality to Netscape.
CELLULAR TELEPHONE USAGE. Cellular phone usage should be kept to a minimum. Government cellular telephones are to be used for official business only. This applies to both incoming and outgoing calls. Cellular telephones should be used only when no other telephone service is available. Regular telephone service (including pay phones) should be used whenever possible instead of cellular phones to make both local and long distance calls.
Cellular long distance calls should be made using the FTS2000 Federal calling card just as if you would use a regular telephone line. Long distance calls made on cellular telephones are very expensive. Recently, FTS2000 made long distance service available to government cellular telephone users, but many carriers do not have the FTS2000 PIC (387) in their systems yet or do not plan to allow this PIC code for the immediate future. Most of the cellular telephones in the SR do not have FTS2000 as a long distance carrier. To save taxpayers a significant amount of money we must convert as many SR cell phones as possible to the FTS2000 system. One advantage to accomplishing this is that cell phones converted to FTS2000 will not require the use of the Federal calling card to make inter-LATA long distance calls (see the following item). Additionally, for intra-LATA calls, you only need to dial the FTS2000 access code, 1010387.
TO ACCESS CODE OR NOT. Most people are familiar with the telephone company's area codes and their significance. There is another area matrix covering the U.S. that has no relationship to the area codes. This matrix is called a LATA (Local Access Transport Area). How does this concern us? Well, you may have noticed long distance charges appearing on your local phone bill. These charges are generated when you are in a state where intra-LATA long distance is done by the local telephone company. These charges can be significant in comparison to the distance and time of the call when using normal FTS2000 rates. Right now Florida is the only state which allows other long distance carriers to provide intra-LATA calling.
The best way to avoid these long distance charges is to use the long distance access code 1010387 which will switch your intra-LATA calls to FTS2000. This access code will work anywhere in our region. In the state of Florida, it should not be necessary to dial this access code for intra-LATA calls if your line has been switched to the FTS2000 service. We expect states in the BellSouth area to slowly begin allowing FTS2000 (and other long distance carriers) to provide intra-LATA service over the next year. If you have any questions, please call Gene Witsman at (817) 978-2367x129.
NEXRAD PMI REVALIDATION. The OSF will visit NWSO San Angelo in early March to revalidate the WSR-88D Preventive Maintenance Inspection workcards. This includes identifying PMIs critical to system availability and PMIs critical to data quality, functionally aligning the PMIs, deleting unnecessary PMIs, and validating PMI completion times. This effort will be beneficial especially in determining relevant PMI completion times. The local electronic technician (ET) will perform the PMIs using the EHB 6-503-1 and 6-503-2 work cards. All errors in the work cards will be recorded, along with any recommended changes and the time it takes the ET to perform the PMI. The OSF will consolidate the comments and recommendations, and will average the PMI completion times with three other sites involved in the validation. A final version of the work cards will be prepared from this effort, with a publication target date of June 1999.
IMPROVING THE NOAA LOCATOR. Susan Beckwith (SSD), working with ADMIN, has recently completed a project in which we are now merging new NWS employees into the electronic NOAA Locator database on a bi-weekly basis, using information received from National Finance Center every pay period. This change will ensure more timely updates, so the NOAA Locator should be more accurate. More details will be included in a memorandum addressed to all offices.
NWSFO ATLANTA. Sixty-seven students from Peeples Elementary School who had just finished studying scientists of yesteryear and today visited the NWSFO on February 12. Carlos Garza, Kent Frantz, Von Woods, Dean Hutsell, Don Silva, Frank Taylor, and Muata Masuka, with a little help from Reggina Garza at the SERFC, showed off their "science laboratory." According to Carlos, "We received the highest accolades from the students, who felt our FO was 'cool' and 'neat' and that our forecasters were the greatest."
NWSO MELBOURNE. NWSO Melbourne lead forecaster Peggy Glitto was featured on a segment of "Real Life 101," aired on 114 TV stations across the country. The segment illustrated the duties of an NWS forecaster and Peggy explained how she chose a career with the NWS. The show should be rebroadcast several times in the coming weeks.
Forecasters Tim Troutman, Tony Cristaldi, Randy Lascody, and Scott Kelly gave presentations on careers in meteorology and the NWS to all the meteorology classes at Brevard Community College this semester. The talks have always been well received year after year.
NWSO MORRISTOWN. MIC Jerry McDuffie shared the following email received from a man who was recently given a tour of the weather office.
Thank you for all the time that you spent with me when I visited. David Matson was so nice to show me the radar. I heard Frank Ferrell on my weather radio at my home. The books that you gave me have been helpful. I want to come back this summer when you get your new equipment. My teacher Barbara enjoyed the visit also, and wants to bring her son up to visit also.
The visitor, a paraplegic, communicates by typing messages with his knuckles on an electronic tablet. He "makes all of us feel very, very lucky," said Jerry, and "we wish everyone who comes in were as interested and dedicated as he is."
The NWSO also took part in the job shadowing program. Four female students (two eighth graders and two tenth graders) visited the office for about four hours, spending time with the MIC and one of the forecasters.
Dave Drinnon of Design Management Associates of Morristown gave a presentation to the entire staff concerning diversity, sexual harassment, team building, behavioral profiles, and conflict resolution. The presentation was well received and will be very beneficial to the staff.
NWSFO NORMAN hosted two high school seniors from Strother High School who were participating in a shadowing program at their school. One was a male; the other was a female. Both are interested in meteorology or related careers. They spent time with one of the forecasters and one of the HMTs.
NWSFO FORT WORTH. MIC Skip Ely has been busy conducting tours of his office which included two boy scouts and their mothers and 15 students and one teacher from Brookhaven Community College in Dallas. A discussion of meteorology and forecasting was part of the tour. There were nine female students in the group.
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